Sudden Impact Racing Update: 10/03/2005

This past two-week road trip to Chicago was a time of highs and lows for the Sudden Impact racing team. All I can say in terms of the National Championship hunt is that it's a good thing we have more races left.

Ray, Brian and I started the trip on Friday, September 23rd and headed down to Cecil County Dragway in Rising Sun, MD to run the event that was rained out in late August.

They had a Friday night street/grudge night that wasn't the best for trying to get data, since there was nothing but street cars, but it was good for going out and making a couple of burnouts and launches to break in a new set of tires on the Cavalier. I had also changed the CO2 cylinder on my throttle stop, so I got to check the stop RPM as well.

On Friday night out in Columbus, OH they were running the make-up of the Bowling Green, KY Division 3 race that was rained out the same weekend as Cecil County. Steve Cohen made it to fifth round there, going around Dad for first place in the world by 5 points (less than a round).

On Saturday, we got one time trial before eliminations and I was .013, 9.898 at 158.26. We guessed right on dad's car as well and he was 9.901 at 166.25.

First round Dad drew Ben Saia and Ben just plain kicked dad around, going .016 and a perfect 9.900 for the win. Dad's car lost a little and 60' and could only manage a 9.920.

With Ray losing first round here, it means that he now has just two Divisionals left to improve on a second round loss. But, if he makes it to third round at either the Atco or Las Vegas points meet, then he'll be back in the national points lead.

I lined up with the always-tough Tom Seeman first round. I had a little on the tree, going .016 and took a safe .018 stripe for the 9.915 to 9.897 win.

Second round I faced Rhode Island racer Gary Castagna. I was .018 to his .032 and on the top end, tried to take .005, but ended up taking .002 stripe, or about 5 inches, for the 9.911 to 9.899 win.

Third round I had to race Ben Saia, who not only whacked Dad in the first round, but took out the guy who was second in Division 1 points, George Smith, in the second round. Ben had me on the tree, .011 to my .025 but I had enough to push him under, with Ben running 9.869 to my 9.895.

This gave me a bye in the fourth round, which was a good thing because lost a little 60' and missed the dial with a 9.918. I hit the tree pretty good at .011, though.

In the semi-finals I was matched up with Jim Fordyce, and his Lumina. Jim's a tough racer and was about 2-3 MPH faster than me, so I was getting chased for the first time of the day. I had a little bit of an advantage on the starting line and took a little too much stripe, .023, on the top end, but still got the win, 9.904 to 9.901. It looks like I was on a 9.901 on this run.

In the final round, my first Super Gas final, I squared off against Jake Barbato. I actually time trialed against Jake in the morning and he had some throttle stop problems, but he and his daughter Kelli recovered nicely to make it to the finals.

In the final, I knew I left a little on the table on the tree, and I was right, with Jake going .019 to my .024. I gave myself enough to get there, the car being on a 9.896, and I pedaled it off to a 9.931 to his 9.952, for the win.

I can't say enough about how much help Ray and Brian were throughout the day, especially getting into the late rounds. This car doesn't cool off anywhere near as quickly as the '67 does, because of the enclosed nose, so quick trips back to the pits for fuel and cooling were key.

After the final we headed back towards the staging lanes to fill out the contingency form, then it was off to the winner's circle to pick up the Wally and for the photos. Thanks to the Kennys, Lepages, and Rich and Karin Dorr for hanging around and for the cold beer that was mighty refreshing at the end of the day.

This was my third career divisional win, and my 7th divisional final, all since 2002. I can hardly remember when I was zero for four in finals. Oh wait, yes I can. This was also my first win in Super Gas.

We loaded everything up, had some dinner, and wandered over to Tom and Lynn Hoosigian's for some more beverages and bench racing.

We left around 9AM on Sunday morning and headed over to the Flying J to get some Propane, fuel the motorhome up, and dump the tanks. So an hour later we were on the road towards Joliet, IL.

We arrived in Joliet mid-day on Monday and weren't too far back from the front of the line. Brian and I killed the time by tossing a little football around in the field and beating each other up playing the NHRA Drag Racing game on my PS2. And of course we were trying to make Pro Stock cars go 9.90 and finish line race them.

They opened the gates on Wednesday morning a little after 9AM and we got parked in our spot on the pavement in the All Stars pits, unloaded, teched, got our credentials, and treated the Cavalier to a fresh batch of Valvoline and a new ACDelco Filter. A quick run through the valves and she was all set for the weekend.

Wednesday night, Al, Carol, and Jason Kenny, Shane Carr, Arthur Gallant, Ray, Brian and I all went out to dinner at Al's Steak House in Joliet. This place is normally pretty classy, white tablecloths and candles on the tables. I guess they must lower their standards on Race weekends. Great food, but I'm pretty sure they had to burn that tablecloth when we were done with it.

On Thursday we got in three time runs. Dad was 9.872, 9.936, and 9.920. On his first run he actually went 167.93 for speed, and that was with the slow motor! He might've eclipsed 170 with the faster motor in. Ray was .013 and .014 on the tree on his last two hits.

I didn't hit the dial much better with my car, running 9.864, 9.919, and 9.930. I was .012, .016 and .014 on the tree, though.

Mom and her brother Bill flew in and got to the track in time for the third time run, so the whole family was at the track together for the first time since Pomona last year.

We had first and second round scheduled for Friday morning. I drew Division 3 racer Leo Zydna, a very tough racer, in the first round. It went surprisingly easy with my .011 light being first off the line by .064. I took a very comfortable .026 stripe and got the win 9.961 to 9.923.

Dad faced off with the '76 Vega of Greg Couch. Greg just put a good run on Dad, being .012 to Dad's .024 on the tree. Couch looked like he was on a 9.89 or 9.90 and all Dad had was a 9.920 for the loss, his second first round loss in a row. This doesn't hurt us too bad in points because he needs to make it to fifth round at a National event to improve anyway. It is puzzling as to why I can't hit the dial with the car, though.

Second round for me was shortly thereafter and whom am I paired up with? Greg Couch of course. Against me he's .041 on the tree to my .018 and I take .010 stripe for the 9.890 to 9.877 double breakout win.

For the second weekend in a row, I had avenged Dad's loss. Brian started calling me Inigo, from the 1987 movie "The Princess Bride", for the line: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." I know that it's kind of an oddball reference, but still funny. It's always more entertaining with Brian at the track.

Friday night, Lynn Hoosigian, Tom Stalba and Ron and Lincoln Morehead put on a huge feast for the Division 1 All Stars and competitors in Chicago. The food was great and the company wasn't too bad, either!

Saturday morning I had third round of Super Gas and had to face California racer Shawn Langdon. We were pretty even off the line, my .011 to his .012 but on the top end he jumped on the brakes harder than I did, killing to a 9.924 to my still under 9.897, despite killing 5 MPH, to end my weekend.

By going three rounds in Chicago I moved up to 23rd place in National points and within striking distance of the top 10 to give me another goal for the rest of the season.

The Jeg's All Stars race started at 11:00AM Saturday morning. They had driver introductions, just like the pros, at 10:00 AM out on the starting line.

Dad's first round opponent in the three round race was Division 7 racer Gerald Turczyn, Jr. Turczyn was very late, dad having .060 on the tree with his .018 light. Dad pedaled a bunch of times on the other end for a 9.973 to 9.947 win. Ray killed about 14 MPH on the run.

In the semi-finals, he was paired up with Division 6 racer Stefan Kondolay. Ray had beaten Stefan once before, in the first round of the Las Vegas divisional last year in a good race. Stefan evened the score this time, going .007 on the tree to Ray's very respectable .016. On the top end, all Ray's car would run was a 9.940 @ 165.66 and Stefan was able to get under that easily with a 9.939 to win by .008.

Saturday night they had the Jeg's All Stars banquet on the other side of the track, where they introduced the winners, awarded them their checks, etc. They Jeg's folks really go all out for this event and for sportsman racing in general and we really appreciate it. Eric Reiff won Super Street and Frank Manzo won Top Alcohol Funny Car, helping Division 1 finish tied for third in points.

We hung around for the first round of pros on Sunday and left shortly thereafter. Congrats to Pete Biondo for winning Stock yet again and to Shane Carr for taking Mike Fuqua's Nitroplate dragster to the winner's circle in Super Comp! Also, special congrats to Steve Cultrera and the Slammer's crew for getting Erica Enders into her first Pro Stock final. They had to work for it, even changing motors between the semis and the finals.

We're on the road home from Joliet now and should be home later on tonight (Monday). This is a short week at home, as we're leaving Wednesday after work to head down to Atco for the divisional there. The plan is to change everything with dad's car; putting in the faster 565 that Boucher just freshened after we lost a lifter. Since we'll have the tranny and converter out, we'll put the fresh spares in, just to make sure everything is fresh and ready to go for these next four very important races.

Thanks for reading and let's hope for some good luck and some dry weather for the upcoming races!